Welcome to our September 2021 research and innovation newsletter.

This newsletter just keeps getting better. I’m hoping that if you read this, then you will never have to read anything else – ever!  Am I overly confident …?  I don’t think so…

There is so much content below that I’ve decided to provide an ‘intermission’ at the half-way point. When you see the ‘Intermission‘ sign, you’ll know it’s time to grab a drink from the bar and mingle for ten minutes before you come back and finish.

Oh… and if you see any interesting articles, projects or news about research that others might be interested in, please send to [email protected] for the next newsletter due in October 2021.

If you’ve stumbled on this newsletter and would like to receive future editions please click this link. Or if you know someone who really needs this: forward to a friend.




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WSAA is Proud to Present our Customer Support Better Practice Framework

WSAA have released a principle-based framework designed to help water utilities assess and improve their practices when it comes to supporting customers in financial difficulty. Based on research from the Thriving Communities Partnership and aligned with the ESC’s “Getting to Fair” strategy.

WSAA hopes the framework will raise awareness of what better practice looks like, provide guidance on what a water business can do to improve their approach for customers who may be struggling and provide consistency around common definitions as well as consistent measurement and reporting of performance.

Read more here


CRCWSC Wraps Up – Only to Live Again

After 9 years of research and international impact, the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) wrapped up on 30 June 2021. Its important work, however, will continue through Water Sensitive Cities Australia, which is becoming a part of the Monash Sustainability Development Institute.

As a partnership between the Commonwealth Government, water-sector practitioners and researchers, the CRC worked to unlock an array of new ways to manage urban water and help address the complex challenges of managing water in urban areas.

The tools, guidance, advice and intelligence developed by the CRC will now freely available on Water Sensitive Cities Australia’s very user friendly Knowledge Platform.


WaterRA’s R&D Test Bed Inventory has Launched

WaterRA’s new test bed Inventory is now live. Designed to support anyone developing and piloting new technologies, the inventory will allow researchers, providers and other innovators to connect, collaborate and access test facilities appropriate for their needs.

You can browse the inventory using an easy to navigate map; however, it’s early days yet, and utilities and others that have test bed facilities are encouraged to get their place on the map.

It you have a test bet facility that can be added, contact Dr Arash Zamayadi.

See the inventory here


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GrantConnect – Opportunities for Australian Government Grants

GrantConnect is a link to everything you want to know about Australian Government grant opportunities. The GrantConnect website is a centralised publication of forecast and current grant opportunities as well as information about grants already awarded.

It’s worth checking, even if it’s just to remind yourself of deadlines for CRC rounds.

A quick look through reveals some really interesting opportunities that you might not have thought about.

Access GrantConnect here


Lots on at the Water Research Foundation

There’s so much happening at the Water Research Foundation that it really is worth your while to click on their web site and have a look around.

There are a number of projects that you, as a WSAA member, have access to, including pathogen monitoring in untreated wastewater, additional treatment options for Cryptosporidium and Giardia removal, best practice in Potable Reuse, a research synthesis on microbes and pathogens and more.

Read about them here

There are also a number of new research opportunities available; including:

  • Using phosphate-based corrosion inhibitors and sequestrants to meet multiple water treatment objectives.
  • Assessment of molecular techniques to detect and predict cyanotoxin occurrence.
  • Understanding the mechanisms of chlorine and chloramine impact on opportunistic pathogens in distribution systems.

Get more details here




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2020-21 Aither Water Markets Report – Now Released

Aither’s annual Water Markets Reports provide independent analysis and insights on southern Murray-Darling Basin water markets activity and outcomes, as well as an outlook for the year ahead. Now in its eighth year, Aither provides this free report as part of their goal of improving the transparency of Australian water markets information for all market participants.

Read the report here




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Making Better Use of Waste

A ground-breaking project to develop an efficient, low-cost, low footprint wastewater treatment process is underway in Darwin.

The project is a collaboration between Power and Water, the Queensland Government, the University of Western Australia, the University of Queensland, Advanced Water Management Centre, Aquatec Maxon Group and Urban Utilities.

While we think of Australia as mainly dry with some wet bits, the challenge for the Top End is tailoring innovative systems developed elsewhere to work in the steamy tropics and in the arid zone.

Read more here


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Sydney Water Biogas to Grid Project Nears Completion

Sydney Water is building on its resource recovery and circular economy practices by implementing an Australian-first biogas-to-grid project that will provide renewable natural gas to Sydney houses and businesses.

Partnering with Jemena, and with support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the project will generate zero-carbon emissions and high-quality biomethane gas from the wastewater treatment process and inject it into the gas grid for heating, cooking, and hot water.

Sydney Water expects to start biomethane production in the first half of 2022 to enhance New South Wales’ energy resilience and contribute to establishing a sustainable green gas market in Australia.

Read more here


Unsplash - Appolinary Kalashnikova

Incorporating Wastewater into Hydrogen Production to Develop a More Sustainable Energy Source

A partnership between Water Research Australia, Monash University, Southeast Water, Melbourne Water, Yarra Valley Water and Water Corporation has recently received an ARC Linkage grant to help address the challenge of water scarcity in the process of hydrogen production.

The team are developing an innovative approach that repurposes wastewater as the feed for hydrogen production through water electrolysis.

This is a great project looking at unique ways to manage residual impurities in treated wastewater.


Read more here


Photo of purple bacteria by CDC on Unsplash

Purple Bacteria Turn Sewage into Hydrogen Fuel

Researchers from King Juan Carlos University, Spain claim that a new light-based biorefinery process could provide a means to harvest green energy from wastewater, with a zero carbon footprint.

The bottom line is that these bacteria use organic molecules and nitrogen gas in lieu of CO2 and water as food. This supplies all the carbon, electrons, and nitrogen they need for photosynthesis. The result is that they generate hydrogen gas, proteins, and a biodegradable type of polyester as waste.

Read more here


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Australian-First Tech: Next Step in Waste Transformation Innovation

Singapore’s Public Utilities Board (PUB) has deployed autonomous drones to manage aquatic plant growth and monitor reservoir activities.

The Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drones will begin monitoring six reservoirs across Singapore, with each drone equipped with remote sensing systems and a camera for near real-team video analytics.

Read more here


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How Modelling and AI Can Help Manage Ageing Urban Water Infrastructure

The Berlin Centre of Competence for Water (KWB) and Berliner Wasserbetriebe have developed a new prediction tool for the management of Berlin´s wastewater assets.

Data from more than 100,000 individual sewer pipes in Berlin was used to test various statistical and AI-based approaches and develop new predictive models.

The new tool can be used to forecast the evolution of the condition of an entire sewer network or of specific groups of sewers with similar characteristics.

Read more here


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Circular Water Cities: A Circular Water Economy for Cleaner, Greener, Healthier, More Prosperous Cities

A new paper from the World Economic Forum explores the concept of circular cities. It is an interesting high-level look at the potential of circularity to spread beyond the economy into urban development.

The purpose of the paper is to aims to ‘inspire, provoke and invite new ideas’ ., where the use and reuse of water and wastewater resources are optimized, thereby unlocking the true value and potential of urban areas.

Read the paper here


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Researchers Improve Desalination Performance by 280%

Researchers from the Ural Federal University (UrFU) have developed a new desalination technology that they claim will significantly reduce the cost of desalination and increase the volume of production.

The desalination technology uses a rotating hollow cylinder inside a solar distiller to accelerate water evaporation by forming a thin film of water on the outer and inner surface of the cylinder. The system is also augmented by a solar collector that acts to increase the temperature of the water.

Read more here


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Iot Sensors Give Yarra Valley Water Access to Near Real-Time Data

Yarra Valley Water in Victoria has entered a 15-year agreement with Telstra that will enable the collection of IoT service data from the utility’s in-field sensors – expected to reach approximately one million devices over the next five years.

The arrangement marks the first large-scale IoT deployment utilising Telstra’s new cloud-based platform-as-a-service IoT Connection Manager (ICM), which will help Yarra Valley Water (YVW) access to near real-time data.

Read more here



No. I wasn’t joking. You’re only half-way through: and what’s more, the really interesting stuff is still to come. Take a break, have a refreshment and come back in ten minutes.


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Researchers Develop High-selective Pseudocapacitive Electrode for Water Softening

Researchers at the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS) have developed a new electrode with high absorption capacity, selectivity and stability to target electro-sorption of hardness ions Ca2+ and Mg2+.

If water softening is your thing, then this is great news.

Read more here




Photo by Michal Czyz on Unsplash

ABC Sunday Extra Broadcast: 

Sewage Testing for COVID-19 is Critical in Rural and Remote Towns

As the highly infectious Delta strain of COVID 19 continues to spread, now making its way rapidly into regional and remote communities, the testing of sewage or wastewater for virus fragments is a critical tool for health authorities.

While wastewater surveillance can’t pin-point an infected household, yet it is an early warning system that’s proving to be particularly effective in smaller communities, where reports of the virus being detected in the sewage are quickly confirmed through personal testing.


Dr Daniel Deere – Project manager for Water Research Australia, national coordination project on wastewater testing.

Listen to it here


Duration: 11min 26sec
Broadcast: Sun 22 Aug 2021, 7:20am


Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Minimizing Errors In RT-PCR Detection and Quantification Of SARS-Cov-2 RNA For Wastewater Surveillance

Continuing a string of highly collaborative scientific efforts to support the development of wastewater surveillance. This paper is a technical review of factors that can cause false-positive and false-negative errors in the surveillance of SARS-CoV-2.

It’s the longest list of authors and organisations that I have ever seen; collaboration in overdrive.

But importantly, the paper sets out a direction for future efforts, identifying an number of strategies to mitigate errors.

Read the paper here


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SMART Breakthrough in Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Variant in Wastewater

Researchers from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and MIT have successfully developed an innovative, open-source molecular detection method that is able to detect and quantify the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) variant of SARS-CoV-2. The team claim that the breakthrough paves the way for rapid, inexpensive surveillance of other SARS-CoV-2 variants in wastewater.

The new methodology is currently being used by Biobot Analytics, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts where they are able to accept and analyse wastewater samples for the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) variant and have plans to add additional variants to its analysis as methods are developed.

Read more here


Image of magnifying glass by Dale Watson

Covid-19 can be Detected in a Single Asymptomatic Person Through Wastewater Surveillance

Some really interesting research at the University of California (UC) San Diego demonstrates how wastewater sampling for SARS-CoV-2 can be valuable at a local scale.

The research was conducted within the university campus during an increase in COVID -19 infections.

As we watch the media and find it difficult to connect wastewater surveillance with actual occurrence, perhaps this local scale approach offers some real value.

Read a summary here

Read the study report here


Photo by FLY:D 🔶Art Photographer on Unsplash

A New Tool to Help Understand the Risk from Microplastics

Research led by Dr Frederic Leusch at Griffith University has developed a new tool to help convert particles/L of microplastic to mg/L.

Why would you care? Well, the tool could help direct future researchers in picking environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastics for their next toxicity experiment.

Again. Why do we care? Well, in combination with other carefully chosen parameters of environmental relevance (aged particles, representative size ranges and polymer mixtures) the researchers hope the tool will ultimately enable more meaningful microplastics risk assessments.

Read more here


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Harnessing Hybrid Systems for Transformative Cities

This important paper authored by experts from the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Aurecon, Marsden Jacob Associates and RMIT University is one of the last outputs from the CRCWSC before it wound-up in July 2021.

The central thesis is that future ‘transformative cities’ will use hybrid systems by combining existing infrastructure with flexible decentralised local solutions. These hybrid systems will merge conventional engineering with nature-based solutions and will be integrated with urban systems for energy, waste, transport, housing and food.

Some heady stuff




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Central Coast Water Security Plan – What do the Community Think?

Central Coast Council have done some great work employing classic social research skills to help understand how their community thinks and feels about water.

Community consultation came up with some intriguing views on a range of water supply options; including purified recycled water for drinking. You must read this!

Read the plan here




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Dairy – Without the Cow

Researchers at CSIRO’s Food Innovation Centre in Victoria are perfecting a new product called Eden Brew that offers a lactose and cholesterol-free replacement for milk.

What is really interesting is that this new non-dairy product is that a new company named Eden Brew is being formed by Australia’s largest dairy co-op, Norco, venture capital firm, Main Sequence and CSIRO.

Read about it here


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Artificial Intelligence Can Now Be Recognised as an Inventor

In a landmark decision, the Australian High Court has set a breath-taking precedent, deciding an artificial intelligence (AI) system can be legally recognised as an inventor in patent applications.

The decision was based on a campaign on behalf of the AI machine called DABUS, an “artificial neural system” whose designs have set off a string of debates and court battles across the globe.


Read more here


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Transparent Coating Captures Aerosol Droplets From Air

Researchers at Northwestern University in the US have developed a transparent, viscous coating they claim could reduce disease transmission by capturing airborne droplets.

The coating, which is based on a polymer commonly employed in cosmetics, could be applied to plexiglass barriers and face shields as well as windows, walls, ceilings or even curtains. Used in this way, it could remove virus-laden particles from the air and so slow down the spread of infectious respiratory diseases like COVID-19.

Read more here


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Some Really Interesting Things

Recently, I discovered a YouTube channel called Veritasium. If you love science; and who doesn’t, then Veritasium has lots to offer. Veritasium is also a web site run by Derek Muller, an Australian-Canadian science communicator. On the web site you will also find lots of short videos suitable for science nerds of all ages.

Derek has risen from small town Traralgon in Victoria to live the high life in Los Angeles and become a Facebook phenomenon.

If you’d love an injection of science nerdiness from a face that looks uncannily like Andy from Masterchef, then there is a lot here for you.

Veritasium web page


Image from Veritasium web site

The Simplest Math Problem No One Can Solve

The Collatz Conjecture is the simplest math problem no one can solve — it is easy enough for almost anyone to understand but notoriously difficult to solve.

Read more and watch a video on Veritasium


Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

The Secret to Productivity Growth is Not Technology

A really interesting thought piece on the link between productivity and technology from the Boston Consulting Group.

In a nutshell, technology fuels productivity growth but tight labour markets provide the spark for this growth. Policymakers should view tight labour markets as both a risk and an opportunity to see productivity grow.

Read more here


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Trigonometry 1000 years Before Pythagoras

Sydney mathematician Daniel Mansfield has now revealed the 3700-year-old artefact from the Old Babylonian period contains the earliest example of complex geometry in the world.

The clay tablet gives legal and geometric details about a piece of land that was split and sold off, with a surveyor measuring out the new area and setting boundaries.

The discovery of the tablet has important implications for the history of mathematics – this is over a thousand years before Pythagoras was born.

Read more here


Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

A Staggering Store of Water is Revealed in Earth’s Crust

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, have calculated that the uppermost 10 kilometres of Earth’s crust holds nearly 44 million cubic kilometres of water. That’s more than the amount frozen in glaciers and the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.

Most of this vast newly discovered reservoir lies at a depth of between 1 and 10 kilometres, beyond the reach of wells that could tap it.


Read about it here




Scientific and Industry Webinar Series

 Application of Membrane Technology in Wastewater Treatment and Reuse

8 September 2021

11.00 am 12.00 pm (AEST)

Dr Jing Guan


Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Environmental Engineering, University of Melbourne



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Virtual Water Expo 2021

Water Online is once again holding Virtual Water Expo 2021 – aimed at the drinking water and wastewater industry.

The event includes four sessions that will cover:

  • Energy Reduction and Recovery Technologies
  • Essential Distribution System Solutions
  • Treatment Plant Efficiency Gains
  • Emerging Contaminants and Removal Strategies

This conference is free and is targeted toward water and wastewater treatment professionals, Engineering, Procurement and Construction firms, consultants and municipalities.

When: 15th – 16th September 2021,

(12:30am and 4:00am AEST)

Cost: Free

Register here


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Aquatech Breakouts Make You Part of the Conversation

Aquatech are holding two more ‘BreakOut’ webinars as we get closer to their November conference in Amsterdam.

The BreakOuts are designed in tandem with the key themes: water quality, digital, desalination & water reuse, industrial/corporate water and resource recovery. Each BreakOut ends with a round table where you can be part of the conversation.

28 Sept – Notable case studies on industrial water treatment
12 Oct  –  Rewarding innovations

Register here


7th Australian and New Zealand Cyanobacteria Workshop

29th & 30th September 2021

Registrations now open!

This year’s Australian and New Zealand Cyanobacteria Workshop will be a two-day virtual event, showcasing new research advancements and providing a forum for water supply managers, health officials, ecologists, modellers, toxicologists and research experts in cyanobacterial identification and management to meet and discuss all things cyanobacteria.

Participants will also be invited to attend an optional PrimeWater and CSIRO AquaWatch End User Consultation Workshop on 1st October to discuss developments in the management and forecasting of harmful algal blooms.




Asia-Pacific Smart Water Utilities 2021

 10 – 11 November 2021, Singapore

The Asia-Pacific Smart Water Utilities 2021 conference in Singapore is currently seeking presentations that are broadly focused on the following:

  • Making an economic assessment for water utilities development
  • Integrating smart water technologies into existing water infrastructure
  • Strategies for managing and reducing water leakage across the network
  • Looking at real-time data and cutting-edge communication technologies
  • New technologies and know-how in IoT and AI for network automation
  • End-user case studies and how to develop an optimal network

Of particular interest are presentations focused on the latest results and experiences in water leakage.



Sydney Water Innovation Festival coming 18-20 October

18 – 20 November 2021

The inaugural 2021 Sydney Water Innovation Festival will bring together incredible insights, brilliant debates, and amazing voices to create an experience that will explore how we can create a better life for our communities through innovation.

In partnership with Northumbrian Water in the UK, the event will be led by an inspiring line-up of guest speakers. Save the date!

Read about it from the Northumbrian perspective

Watch a brief video here



‘Embracing Positive Change Through Disruption’ – QWater’21 Conference

25 & 26 November 2021.

The Australian Water Association has just called for papers for the Qwater’21 Conference, in Brisbane and hosted by Seqwater.

The conference deliberately seeks to provide a forum where technical learnings are celebrated and personal growth is commended with papers and presentations targeted at enhancing our industry through SHARED experiences, CONNECTED membership, and INSPIRED individuals.







WaterRF web site image and unSplash

Free Access to US Water Research Foundation Resources

Great news! If your utility is a member of WSAA, you have access to all the online resources of the US Water Research Foundation (WaterRF), including:

  • Access to a huge library of research, webinars and support material covering all facets of the water industry.
  • Opportunities to participate in collaborative research projects with international teams and gain first-hand access to results.
  • Opportunities to participate in Project Advisory Committees, learn from international experience and share your expertise.
  • Access to the TechLink program and the industry’s shared experience with emerging technology.

Watch a short video

If you would like access to WaterRF – and who wouldn’t – please send an email to Dale Watson.


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Water Research Access Portal

The Water Research Access Portal (WRAP) is an important resource for those on a quest for knowledge. The WRAP is an online database of reputable Australian urban water research that helps you focus your search on themes that matter.

WSAA also holds the Water 360 database, a global digital repository on community education and customer engagement items on purified recycled water for drinking and other matters. Watch this space for more news in coming editions.

And the WRAP is available on this link


Water Research Access Portal 
Your gateway to reputable Australian urban water research.
Water Research Foundation
WSAA utility members can access reports and webinars for free
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